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Ohio State softball advances to NCAA regional finals, will face No. 2 Florida

The Buckeyes blew a lead against the Gators on Saturday, and must beat them twice on Sunday to advance.

Ohio State Athletics

It was an up-and-down Saturday for the Ohio State softball team which saw them give up a late-game lead against No. 2 Florida in perhaps the most painful way possible, only to fall behind immediately in an elimination rematch against USF. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, they were able to bounce back and get the win against the Bulls to move into the Gainesville regional finals on Sunday.

In their third-straight NCAA Tournament, the Buckeyes were bracketed with USF, No. 2 Florida, and Bethune-Cookman in the double-elimination region. After defeating the USF Bulls, 3-1, on Friday night, OSU faced the host Gators on Saturday, with the loser of that game taking on to face the winner of the USF vs. Bethune-Cookman contest.

Thanks to besting the Bulls in Saturday’s nightcap, the Buckeyes will have a chance to avenge their Saturday meltdown against the Gators on Sunday. However, since UF is 2-0 in this double-elimination round-robin, the Buckeyes must beat the Gators twice to advance to a best-of-three series in the super regionals.

What happened on Saturday?

OSU 2, UF 10 | Six innings

The tale of Saturday’s first game can be told in one statistic: bases-on-balls. Ohio State pitching gave up a combined 15 walks against Florida in the day’s opener. What makes it worse is that UF— the second-ranked team in the country— doesn’t exactly need any help in the offensive department.

However, despite giving up 11 of the free passes herself, Buckeye starting pitcher Shelby McCombs actually maintained a scoreless tie through four innings of work, and her offense staked her to a 2-0 lead.

In the top of the fourth, Buckeye designated player Ashley Goodwin got OSU on the board with a solo home run; her 10th of the season. Then in the fifth, Lilli Piper drove in Becca Gavin to spot McCombs a two-run lead.

However, in the bottom of the inning, a pair of walks and a Piper error loaded the bases with one out. Jaimie Hoover drove in the first run for UF, and after a fielder’s choice stopped a run at the plate, Amanda Lorenz drove the ball into right field, giving the Gators a lead that they would never relinquish.

In fact, the home team ran off 10-straight runs to end the game in the sixth due to a run-rule. Certainly not what Buckeye coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly would have wanted from a 2-0 lead going into the bottom of the fifth.

OSU 3, USF 2

After the demoralizing defeat in the first game of the day, the Buckeyes had to turn around and get back up for a rematch with USF, who had beaten Bethune-Cookman 3-0 to end the Wildcats’ season.

In the day’s nightcap, USF’s Brooke Hartman drove in Lindsey Devitt in the top of the first, and Amber Atkinson scored in the second on a passed ball, giving the Bulls a 2-0 lead (although replay called into question the accuracy of the umpire’s call on the bang-bang play).

However, from there, the scoring was all Buckeyes, as OSU exploded for three runs in the third. Taylor White led off with a single, and was followed up by a Bailee Sturgeon hit. Next, Piper reached on an error that also allowed White to score.

After a pop out, and then a stolen base for Piper, McCombs singled to bring in Sturgeon and move Piper to third, who then got home on a Goodwin sacrifice bunt.

That would be all of the scoring that the game would see, as Morgan Ray would go the distance in the circle for the Buckeyes, striking out five, walking one, and giving up a lone earned run.

What’s on tap for Sunday?

Having already lost a game, the Buckeyes will have the unenviable task of needing to knock off the second-ranked team in the country... twice... at home, in order to keep their season alive.

The first game will be at noon ET, and should Ohio State force the “if necessary” game, that will happen almost immediately thereafter, with the game time tentatively set for 2:30 p.m. ET.

The winner of the OSU-UF matchup will advance to the Super Regionals next weekend, where they will face the winner of the No. 15 Texas A&M vs. Baylor regional final. The Aggies have the advantage of being undefeated, as Baylor lost the regional’s opening game against McNeese State, 11-10.

How to watch Ohio State vs. No. 2 Florida in the Gainesville Regional

  • Time: Noon ET
  • Location: Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, Gainesville, Florida
  • Online: Live Stats
  • NCAA Tournamet: Full Bracket

Sunday schedule

Sunday, May 20

Game 6: No. 2 Florida vs. Ohio State | 12 p.m.
Game 7: G6 Winner vs. G6 Loser (if necessary) | 2:30 p.m.